In this day and age, it’s not uncommon for a translation agency to contact their pool of translators with a request to lower rates. Translators tend to get upset about this kind of requests—and sometimes rightfully so. Although this type of requests might be indeed frustrating, I found that changing my perspective helps me focus on what’s good in them, not on how angry I am.
Don’t Take It Personally
As simple as it may sound, it works. Just as salespeople shouldn’t take rejection personally, you shouldn’t feel like an agency that you trusted as your partner actually disrespects you. Oftentimes, their request is simply a business decision. The agency needs to lower their own rates to be more competitive and win more business that they’re going to send your way. The last thing you want to focus on is how unfair this situation is for you personally.
Whatever you agree upon with an agency should be a win-win. I don’t believe in a win-lose. By doing them a favor and reducing your rate, you’re entitled to expecting something in return. The best option is usually increased volumes of work. Ask for more work, and it’ll compensate you what you’ll lose on the price. Another option is to agree with the agency that you’ll lower translation quality proportionally. This way, you’ll be able to work faster and translate more words every day. The third option is asking for a referral or asking to receive for free a product that the agency makes such as a software product.
I’m not talking about those cases when an agency obviously disrespects you. That’s not how they should treat a partner, and you shouldn’t give in unless you have very strong reasons to agree. Once, we accepted a 100K-word English to Russian translation project from an agency and began working on it. After a few days, the agency told us they wanted a 10% discount or else they would reassign the project to someone else. This sounded like a threat, and we thought this kind of attitude was borderline insulting. Even though it was extremely inconvenient for us to give up the project at this point because we had already booked the team and had rejected other projects since we had expected to be busy for a few weeks, we had to say no. But under different circumstances and before we accept a project, we’re happy to discuss a discount when a client needs it because e.g. they had to come down on the price to win a project.
When an agency contacts a translator with a request to lower his/her rates, my recommendation is to put feelings aside and put on your business owner hat.
That will take the heat out of the situation.
Now that you’re even keeled, look for a win-win solution that enables both you and your agency client to achieve your financial goals. If there’s none, well, you should agree to disagree then.
How did you react to this kind of requests in the past?